Jones Library trustees expect to hire architect in January for expansion

Last modified: Thursday, November 12, 2015

AMHERST — Jones Library trustees expect to hire an architect in less than two months to begin planning a project to expand and renovate the 87-year-old Amherst center library.

With a request for qualifications document issued last week, Sharon Sharry, the library director, said Monday that trustees are starting the process of having an architect chosen at its Jan. 7 meeting. Trustees will use a portion of a $50,000 planning and design grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, supplemented by $25,000 appropriated by Town Meeting, to pay for the work.

Hiring an architect is the next step in pursuing a building project for the first time since 1993, when a $4.6 million expansion added 12,000 square feet to create a 57,000-square-foot library.

Trustees in June approved a building program that calls for up to a 110,000-square-foot building aimed at addressing deficiencies in the current building, including the lack of small, quiet study rooms, a computer training lab and a youth activities room. This project could cost up to $40 million, with a large portion of the costs paid by the state and with fundraising in the community.

The building program also calls for making the library safer, with continued inappropriate behavior by teenagers that has not been fully addressed by security cameras, reducing energy costs by installing modern mechanical systems and possibly using cutting-edge green technology, and helping to maximize the productivity of staff.

Architects interested in seeking the work will do a walk-through of the building Friday morning and have a Nov. 25 deadline to submit their proposals. Trustees will narrow the field of potential architects to three, and each will be interviewed at public sessions Dec. 21.

These interviews will take place in the Woodbury Room at 1:30 p.m., 2:45 p.m. and 4 p.m.

While the public will be welcome to attend, residents will not be able to ask questions, though they can submit comments to trustees following the interviews, Sharry said.

In September, trustees selected Colliers International, which has a local office in Agawam, to serve as the project manager.

A schematic design completed by the architect will be submitted to the state library commissioners by Jan. 31, 2017, which would be followed by Town Meeting approval that spring to seek a construction grant. According to the current schedule, construction would begin in July 2018 and conclude by Jan. 1, 2020.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at


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